5 Steps to Take Before Buying Your First Home

home buyerWith the housing market heating up again it has become more competitive and lenders are demanding more documentation regarding the sale process which means that as a first time buyer you want to be prepared and not have anything that can snarl the process. The following 5 steps will help a first time home buyer prepare for their first home purchase.

1.  Be sure to check your credit report. Make sure that there isn’t anything that shouldn’t be on there such as paid off balances, fraudulent charges or even family members’ credit. Your credit should be as clean as possible. Pay off any and all debt possible. If you feel the need to cancel any credit cards, do so strategically. If you decide to cancel multiple credit cards in a short time period be aware that can send out red flags to lenders. The best thing to do is to close the newest cards. Lenders like to see that you have a long standing relationship with credit companies as well as have more credit available a month than what you spend. It is also a good idea to have a savings account.

2.  Create a monthly budget so that you know what to expect spending wise when you buy a home. Wright down all your finances and as you save money for your first home, live as if you are making a mortgage payment so that you will be prepared spend less money once the home is bought. Be sure to stick to your budget.

3.  Be sure to find a good agent to help you in the search and buying process of your first home. Your agent should be showing you homes with in your price range, listen to your wants and needs pertaining to the house, help you become a strategic bidder, guide you through the process and they should be concerned about making you happy and not solely about their commission.

4. Find a good lender. It is important to find a lender that explains all aspects of the loan to you and one that is willing to look over your credit report with you and give advice as to what you can do to improve it. Be sure to interview several lenders before choosing one and wait until you find one you are happy with before having your credit checked. It will be another red flag and bump on your credit report if it shows your credit has been checked several times within a short time period. Do not settle for what may seem like the best deal such as settling with a lending company which you found and signed up with online. You may get a good rate but when the time comes to speak with an agent you may have difficulty getting a hold of one.

5. Keep a look out for properties and be ready to make an offer. The market has become competitive and you want to be quick at making a wise and competitive offer. Don’t make large purchases such as a new car which may lower your housing budget. When you find the house you are interested in, call utility providers and ask for usage history or contact the HOA so that you are aware of the average costs of living at a certain property and you don’t end up going over budget. Remember to continue to live and spend as if you are already making house payments so that you don’t end up under budget.

Prices of Seattle Homes up in the Past Year

housing price

Compared to cities tracked in a national index, Seattle home prices rose  faster between February and March than 18 of the 19 other cities that were tracked. The 12 month rise was still within the national average. According the Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller home price index, Seattle prices rose 3.0 percent for the month and 10.6 percent for the year.

Compared to a year ago, U.S. home prices jumped 10.9 percent in March which was the most since April 2006. More buyers are bidding on a small supply which is driving prices higher, making the market more competitive as well as improving the housing market. Phoenix had the highest annual gain with 22.5 percent followed by San Francisco with 22.2 percent and Las Vegas with 20.6 percent. New York had the smallest annual increase with only 2.6 percent.

Although the market is seeing higher gains, many home owners are not putting their homes on the market which is contributing to home prices rising and encouraging builders to heighten construction. Applications for building permits rose in April making it the highest level in close to 5 years.

Queen Anne Market Place Sold for $31.7 Million

QueenAnnemarket place

Photo Courtesy of Benaroya

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Benaroya Capital Co. sold the Queen Anne Marketplace, a full block retail center for $31.7 Million. Public Records have indicated that the buyer  is WRI Western Queen Anne Limited Liability Co.

The Marketplace currently includes a Metropolitan Market grocery, Bartell Drug store, and a Fedex among others along Roy and Mercer Streets. The Marketplace is at the base of Queen Anne Hill, bordered by First and Warren Avenues N. For more information on Commercial Sales & leasing, visit the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Annual U.S. Home Value Appreciation Up for 6 Straight Months

Madrona Home KL

Madrona Home For Sale

According to the April Zillow Real Estate Market Reports, U.S. home value continues to climb. April was the sixth consecutive month that home values exceeded a 5 percent climb. This is the largest streak since 2006. The streak should not be expected to last. As more inventory is offered in the market some home prices will have to fall to level out with the rest. The Zillow Home Value Forecast predicts a 4 percent climb in the next year although most markets have already hit bottom.

National rents declined 2 percent in April compared to March. Demand for rental properties is still strong. Many investors are buying homes, fixing them up and turning them into rental units. Because of this, many markets are seeing less inventory and sharp home value appreciation brought on by the investors. Over the past month there has been a slight increase in inventory in some markets as more housing is constructed as well as more sellers enter the market.

Short sales having same effect as foreclosures

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Many people who sold their home in a short sale are having problems getting back in the market due to the fact that their credit reports and scores indicate that they had been foreclosed on. This is preventing many from being able to qualify for a home loan and mortgage even though they may have cleaned up their credit and have twenty percent cash aside for a down payment. How and why is this happening?

The current credit reporting system does not have a code that distinguishes a short sale from a foreclosure. The code only shows that a home was foreclosed on and not sold in a short sale. This doesn’t seem quite fair and is being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla, requested that the FTC and CFPB investigate the issue and penalize any responsible parties if they do not fix the coding issue within 90 days.

The Housing Market is Heating Up and Many Homebuyers are Clueless

homesAccording to a study conducted by Zillow, when it comes to understanding mortgages, buyers answered basic questions about terms, lenders and financing wrong one third of the time. The study of over 1,000 prospective and current buyers, which was conducted in April found that 34% didn’t know the meaning of the term “annual percentage rate,” 31% of buyers didn’t think that they could get a mortgage for less than 5% down, and 1 in 4 were under the impression you should close with the lender who per-approves your mortgage. It’s important for buyers to shop around and compare rates  and reviews before finding the best loan for them. The results also showed that 34% of surveyors thought that lenders were required by law to charge the same fees to all clients for credit checks appraisals, etc, which is a false assumption. Fees will vary between bank to bank, and sometimes can be negotiated.

It can be difficult to choose which is the best deal for you, if you don’t understand what the various mortgage terms mean. The APR, or Annual Percentage Rate factors include fees, origination and underwriting fees, and other costs borrowers use to calculate the actual cost of loans. This lack of knowledge can really hurt your overall savings. Many buyers believe they need a down payment of 5% bare minimum, but loans given by the Federal Housing Administration can actually only require 3.5%. Many buyers also begin shopping around with financing in place so they’re able to move quickly on a home they really want, and according to the study, 26% of buyers believe once they’re pre-approved, they must honor that loan in closing, but that is far from the truth; there is really no obligation. If buyers see better loan terms available, they should take them! For more information for buyers and sellers, visit CNN Money.

Top Homeowner Regrets to Avoid

We’re already in the thick of Spring house hunting season, and as many have come to find out, this year’s search is especially narrowed, as inventory is at a 12 year low. Many buyers will have to move fast on a home, but when it comes to searching and purchasing a home, moving too quickly without weighing out the positive and negatives might come with regrets. This spring, Trulia surveyed 2,130 adults about their biggest housing regrets, and they found some interesting results. Here are 18 of the top homeowner regrets:

Pictured home is for Sale and Lease

Pictured home is for Sale and Lease

1) 17% of homeowners wished they had chosen a larger home

2) 14% wished they had done more remodeling when they bought the home

3) 11% wish they had more information about the home before they decided to purchase

4) 9% wished they had put more money down for the down payment

5) 8% wished they had been more financially secure before they decided

6) 8% wished they had chosen a neighborhood with a shorter commute to work

7) 7% wished they had more information about the neighborhood before they decided

8) 7% wished they had worked with a different real estate agent

9) 7% wished they had shopped around more for a better mortgage

10) 6% wished they had borrowed less against their home

11) 6% wished they had understood the cost of home ownership before taking the plunge

12) 6% wished they had chosen a smaller home

13) 5% wished they had chosen a neighborhood with less crime

14) 4% wished they had chosen a neighborhood with better schools

15) 3% wished they had rented instead of bought

16) 2% wished they had done less remodeling when they bought than they did

17) 2% wished they had put less money down for the down payment

18) 1% wished they had borrowed more against their home

Trulia also surveyed renters, who had similar regrets as the homeowners; many wished they had rented larger homes, with a shorter community to work, or lived in a neighborhood with less crime and better schools. The top regret though was wishing they had chosen to buy instead of rent, which 23% of renters expressed. If you’d like more information on selling or purchasing a home, contact your local real estate agent today.

Victims of Boston Bombing to be honored during Mother’s Day Dash

m-day dashThe Issaquah Schools Foundation had already planned on hosting a Mother’s Day Dash to benefit the foundation before the Boston bombings occurred. The foundation decided that the Mother’s Day Dash would be the perfect opportunity to raise money in honor of the victims of the Boston bombings by donating $1 for every participant that enters the race and donate it to the One Fund.

Christine Kipp of Ewing and Clark is a supporter of the foundation and was so impressed by what they are doing that she decided to match each donation dollar for dollar. She will donate $1 for every runner and walker that participates to the One Fund and foundation.

They are expecting there to be between 1,000 and 1,500 participants. The run starts at 9:00am on Saturday, May 11th on 12th Ave by the Issaquah Sports Authority. Entry fee is $25 for adults and children over 11 years old and $8 for children 10 years old and younger. For more information on the event please visit http://issaquahmothersdaydash.eventbrite.com/#.

Home Value Appreciation Slows Nationwide

The annual home value appreciation slowed in March down from 5.4 % down to 5.1%, which could be a sign of moderation in the market. In the past, housing markets have been expecting annual home value appreciations close to 3%, but according to the Zillow home value forecast for March 2014, we’re looking at an increase of 3.2%. While this is fairly close to the historical norm, there are some local markets where home values continue to increase at Usain Bolt speed. for-sale-sign

Five cities have increased at a rate higher than 20%- San Francisco, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Jose, and Sacramento. While the National housing market overall has rebounded strongly over the past year, the spike in home values experienced during this times isn’t always expected to stick, and recent trends might indicate that the market is trying to find  a middle ground. As more inventory becomes available, we can expect home value appreciation to slow.